Enjoy a traditional tea ceremony, feed wild monkeys and explore World Heritage-listed temples and shrines in this historically rich Japanese city.

Kyoto, on the Japanese island of Honshu, has been a hub of religious activity and political power since the eighth century. It was once the capital of Japan and retains many of the temples and palaces built within this period. Step back in time to imperial Japan as you explore the city’s many World Heritage Sites such as the Kiyomizu Temple. Kyoto is also renowned for its landscaped gardens, many of which are based on designs dating back hundreds of years.

The wealth of cultural history in Kyoto can be overwhelming and it can be difficult to know where to start. Take the Philosopher’s Walk to orient yourself around some of Kyoto’s historic sights, such as the Eikando Temple. The walk takes in three major temples as well as several smaller temples and shrines, boutique shopping areas and restaurants where you can sample the traditional Japanese multicourse dinner, kaiseki. Cherry blossoms line the walk during spring, and in the fall, the area comes alive with the brilliant reds of maple trees.

Central Kyoto offers a combination of modern and traditional delights. Ride up the Kyoto Tower for a 360-degree view over the city from 330 feet (100 meters) up. Explore the Nishiki Market, lined with restaurants, and fresh produce and street food stalls. See giant salamanders and local river fish at the Kyoto Aquarium.

At one of the regular festivals held in the city, taste some of the food brought to Kyoto from all over Japan to please the Emperor, watch traditional crafts being made, take a lesson in saké brewing and experience the culture of Japan.

Lovers of Japanese literature will enjoy the 17th-century Katsura Imperial Villa, built to resemble the fictional setting of the 11th-century novel The Tale of Genji.

Tourism is a large part of Kyoto’s economy and there are some unique attractions such as hand feeding wild snow monkeys at Arashiyama Monkey Park. Kyoto has a welcoming atmosphere, incredible natural beauty and layered history.

Kyoto Travel Guide

Where to stay in Kyoto

Central Kyoto
Nijo Castle showing a park and a pond

Central Kyoto

Known for Temples, Castles, Flowers

4.5/5(1,714 reviews)

Enjoy the popular shops in Central Kyoto. Nijō Castle is a worthwhile stop, and you can jump on the metro at Nijojo-mae Station or Karasumaoike Station to see more of Kyoto.

Gion
Gion which includes cycling, street scenes and night scenes

Gion

Known for Temples, Culture, Flowers

5/5(191 reviews)

Experience a traditional tea ceremony or a night of cultural entertainment within the historic wooden teahouses of this well-preserved Kyoto district.

Arashiyama
Kyōto featuring a garden, forest scenes and landscape views

Arashiyama

Known for Temples, Rivers, Culture

5/5(47 reviews)

Arashiyama is noteworthy for its river views, and you can make a stop at top attractions like Kyoto Arashiyama Orgel Museum and Bamboo Forest Street.

Karasuma
Nishiki Market featuring markets and street scenes as well as a large group of people

Karasuma

Known for Festivals, Culture, Temples

Karasuma is highly notable for its popular shops, and you might want to visit top sights like Nishiki Market and Kawaramachi. See more of Kyoto by jumping on the metro at Shijo Station or Karasumaoike Station.

Karasumaoike
Kyoto International Manga Museum featuring a city

Karasumaoike

Known for Temples, Flowers, Culture

4.5/5(2 reviews)

If you're spending time in Karasumaoike, you might enjoy attractions like Kyoto International Manga Museum and Rokakkudo Temple. You might also enjoy the neighborhood's picturesque gardens before hopping on the metro at Karasumaoike Station to see more of the city.

Nishijin
Kyōto which includes heritage architecture and a temple or place of worship

Nishijin

Known for Temples, Gardens, Culture

4.5/5(13 reviews)

You might enjoy the coffeehouses while in Nishijin. Doshisha University is a notable sight, and you can get around town at Imadegawa Station or Kuramaguchi Station to see more of the city.

Top Hotels in Kyoto

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
RIHGA Royal Hotel Kyoto
RIHGA Royal Hotel Kyoto
4 out of 5
1 Taimatsu-cho, Shiokoji-sagaru, HigashiHorikawa-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto
¥8,699
per night
Dec 17 - Dec 18

Located in Central Kyoto, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Nishihonganji Temple, Kyoto Tower, and Kyoto Aquarium. Higashi Honganji Temple and Toji Temple ...

4.4/5Excellent! (3,379 reviews)

"Beautiful property and the room size for larger stays is a HUGE plus 👍"…"

Reviewed on Nov 14, 2019

RIHGA Royal Hotel Kyoto
Daiwa Royal Hotel Grande Kyoto
Daiwa Royal Hotel Grande Kyoto
4 out of 5
15 Nishi-Iwamotocho, Higashi-kujo, Kyoto, Kyoto
¥9,762
per night
Dec 9 - Dec 10

Located in Central Kyoto, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Kyoto TERRSA, Kyoto Tower, and Higashi Honganji Temple. Sanjusangendo Temple and Kyoto Aquarium ...

4.7/5Exceptional! (947 reviews)

"Everything is great. Specially the view. Only one thing it is little hot in the room and air conditioner doesn’t work very well."…"

Reviewed on Nov 18, 2019

Daiwa Royal Hotel Grande Kyoto
M's INN SANJO OMIYA
M's INN SANJO OMIYA
3 out of 5
77-1, Aneomiya-cho Nishigawa, Nakagyo, Kyoto, Kyoto
¥5,181
per night
Dec 8 - Dec 9

Located in Central Kyoto, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Shijo Omiya, Kawaramachi, and Nijō Castle. Nishiki Market and Kyoto Imperial Palace are also ...

4.6/5Exceptional! (13 reviews)

"Check in and out process quick via tablet and access to room and site 24 hr by pin"…"

Reviewed on Nov 5, 2019

M's INN SANJO OMIYA

Popular things to do in Kyoto

Kiyomizu Temple
Image for Kiyomizu Temple

Kiyomizu Temple

4.5/5(682 reviews)

Constructed entirely without nails and built on high poles, this temple is part of a World Heritage Site and offers visitors both beauty and history.

Kyoto Imperial Palace
Image for Kyoto Imperial Palace

Kyoto Imperial Palace

4.5/5(522 reviews)

Learn more about the local history when you visit Kyoto Imperial Palace, a well-known historical site in Kyoto. Discover the top-notch restaurants and fascinating museums in this culturally-rich area.

Nijō Castle
Image for Nijō Castle

Nijō Castle

4.5/5(537 reviews)

Visit the world of the wealthy and powerful shogun, in this opulent 17th-century castle complex.

Kyoto Tower
Image for Kyoto Tower

Kyoto Tower

4/5(410 reviews)

In a city known for its temples and other ancient relics, this observation point catches the eye as an example of 20th-century innovation.

Fushimi Inari Shrine
Image for Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari Shrine

4.5/5(1,047 reviews)

This shrine at the base of Inari Mountain is dedicated to the goddess of rice and prosperity. See its thousands of red gates around a network of beautiful trails.

Toji Temple
Image for Toji Temple

Toji Temple

4.5/5(166 reviews)

The To-ji Temple is one of the preeminent traditional sites in Kyoto, with exquisite structures, a flea market and the tallest pagoda in the country.

Top activities in Kyoto

Kyoto Perfect Tour: 1day bus tour
Image for Kyoto Perfect Tour: 1day bus tour

Kyoto Perfect Tour: 1day bus tour

¥14,000

Discover the 3 World Heritage listed sites (Kiyomizu temple, Tenrryuji temple and Kinkakuji Temple) in Kyoto. Besides, we will visit 2 popular spots: Fushimi Inari Shrine and bamboo forest in Sagano. Please be intoxicated magnificent Japanese historical places.

Kyoto & Nara 1-Day Tour
Image for Kyoto & Nara 1-Day Tour

Kyoto & Nara 1-Day Tour

¥15,600

Explore the must-see sights of history-rich Kyoto, including the spectacular Nijo Castle, eminent Kinkaku-ji, and grand Kyoto Imperial Palace. In the afternoon, embark for Nara, home of pacific Nara Park and the famous temple of Todai-ji.

Full-Day Bus Tour to Kyoto, Nara & Kobe
Image for Full-Day Bus Tour to Kyoto, Nara & Kobe

Full-Day Bus Tour to Kyoto, Nara & Kobe

¥10,588

Take a journey through the wonders of ancient and modern Japan with a day trip that shows you the historic cities of Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe. With destinations from the peaceful bamboo forest of Arashiyama to the lively Kobe Mosaic, you get a look at centuries' worth of culture.

Reviews of Kyoto

4.8

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
1365
5 - Excellent 77.51277683134583%
4 - Good
363
4 - Good 20.61328790459966%
3 - Okay
28
3 - Okay 1.5900056785917092%
2 - Disappointing
3
2 - Disappointing 0.17035775127768313%
1 - Terrible
2
1 - Terrible 0.1135718341851221%

5/5 - Excellent

Lee

Nov 20, 2019

very good local bus

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Nov 20, 2019

I was amazed at the amount of tourists there was.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Nov 19, 2019

Kyoto is a place you must visit when you come to Japan. It’s surrounded by Japanese culture and people in Kyoto are amazingly friendly.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Nov 18, 2019

We love Kyoto

5/5 - Excellent

M

Nov 18, 2019

Kyoto was beautiful and fun. Out of all the Japan cities, this is the one I liked the most. They had the friendliest people, most walkable and most to do.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Nov 17, 2019

No experience of Japan is complete without a visit to Kyoto!

Read travel guides and advice on visiting Kyoto

Sustainable Travel & Ecotourism in Japan
Image for Sustainable Travel & Ecotourism in Japan

Sustainable Travel & Ecotourism in Japan

From the serenity of ancient shrines to the electric lights of Akihabara, here are some sustainable tourism tips for being a responsible traveler in Japan.

How to Spend a Weekend in Kyoto, Japan
Image for How to Spend a Weekend in Kyoto, Japan

How to Spend a Weekend in Kyoto, Japan

With its ancient palaces and vibrant cherry blossom, a weekend in Kyoto promises a magical journey to the heart of Japan.

Kyoto Food Tours
Image for Kyoto Food Tours

Kyoto Food Tours

Matcha ice cream, vegan ramen, and a bar hopping Izakaya adventure await you in Kyoto.

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